“ Adaptation: David Wood „
I was lucky enough to go with my Foundation stage class to see 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea' stage show based on the very famous book by Judith Kerr, who also wrote some of Harry's favourite books - the 'Mog' series. The Tiger Who Came To Tea was one we hadn't read a huge amount together, but the week before we went to the local Corn Exchange with my class, we read the book several times and got the children to do lots of 'Tiger' themed craft and play, from dressing up to role play to pictures of their own version of the story. I wasn't sure how well it would translate to the stage, and how much the children would be able to follow the action, but I was so surprised by how fantastic the show was, and I wish I had had a chance to take Harry to watch it with me!
As I mentioned, the show is based on the book of the same name by Judith Kerr, and such detail has been paid to the book, it is wonderful to see. The words used on stage are the same as in the book, but have added songs and action from David Wood, a leading director and writer of many famous stage shows, including The Witches, The BFG and Fantastic Mr Fox. When we walked in to the theatre, the stage was all set up in Sophie's kitchen, where the main part of the action takes place. The show began on time, which was great as young children don't enjoy sitting around quietly for too long, and it jumps straight into the action, introducing us to the 3 human characters of the story, Sophie and her mum and dad.
The characters are played to perfection by some real talent by a wonderful and enthusiastic cast. The star of the show is without a doubt Abbey Norman, who plays young Sophie. She's dressed exactly as Sophie is in the book, completely with pinafore and bright tights, and she tackles the role with gusto. Norman is so enthusiastic in her performance, almost cringingly so for the adults in the audience, but you can't help but have your eyes on glued on her, and the children absolutely loved her. She's so likeable, has a wonderful speaking and singing voice that is very easy to listen to, and I have to praise her on her line delivery as well, so clear and well spoken that the youngest of children were able to follow what she was saying. Jenanne Redman takes on the role of Sophie's mother, again dressed as per the character in the book and was a great performer, taking on the motherly role of Sophie, and she worked very well with Norman, her on-stage daughter. Her singing voice was also great, not as easy to listen to as Norman's but plays the role so so well.
Alan Atkins is the only person in the show to take on multiple roles within, although none of the children seemed to pick up on the fact he was the same person playing all these roles! First, and foremost, he is the role of Sophie's father, and has some great comedic moments that are perfectly aimed at the young age of its audience. His physical and obvious slapstick comedy was funny even to the adults, and I enjoyed watching his performance very much. Atkins is also the milkman, the postman and a few other characters who call at Sophie's home, all in different costumes. Now, I have to mention the Tiger. I'm not sure who is in the costume, perhaps Atkins, but it's a big, human sized bright orange tiger costume, and was actually bigger and scarier than I thought it'd be! The tiger dances, has fun with Sophie and her mother and is a joy to watch and the children in the audience were captivated watching it, and a lot of the obvious comedy came from moments where the Tiger appeared around the door, so the children could see and then would disappear, causing the children to yell at Sophie and her mother that the tiger was there!
The songs in this performance were fantastic, and very easy to follow and join along with. Wood, who translated the play from its book form to the stage show, has really captured the heart and essence of the play with the songs, and I thought the musical score as a whole was fantastic, and worked so well for the duration of the play. Audience participation is a must for this show, and you have to be prepared to get up and sing and dance along with your children when you're prompted, but it's so much fun and it's a joy to watch the children copying the adults on the stage and having fun! There was an amazing moment where the theatre was lit up with a disco ball for a particular area of the show, and the children were in awe, staring at the ceiling with huge smiles, and it really felt magical at that point.
It isn't surprising that the show has been nominated for the Olivier Award (awards for the best of British theatre) for Best Entertainment and Family show, although it sadly lost out to Derren Brown (they were robbed!) because it is a wonderful way to introduce very young children to the theatre, and to bring their very favourite books to life in front of their eyes. All of the adults who took our class thoroughly enjoyed the 55 minute long performance, which was long enough to include the storyline of the book, extra songs and a few areas of audience participation, but not too much so that the children were getting antsy and agitated with sitting for too long! I really enjoyed myself, my class of 30 loved it and were raving about it, wanting to sing the songs that they'd been joining it with during the show, and I'm sure it'll be an unforgettable time for them, and for the adults too! If it tours near you, The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a must-see theatre show for young children (and us grown-ups!) to see!
'The Tiger Who Came To Tea' stage show is still touring the UK starring Jenanne Redman, Abbey Norman and Alan Atkins.
Find out more at their official website: http://www.thetigerwhocametotealive.com/
Thank you for reading.